Wills and Kate's Turangawaewae visit off - for now

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2014
Prince George
Reuters
FAMILY: Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, with their son George.

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Prince William's visit to Turangawaewae Marae has been cancelled - for now.

Preparations were underway at the Kingitanga's seat of power in Ngaruawahia but plans have been brought to a halt.

Marae insiders slipped a message to Times that said "the Royal visit has been cancelled!!!!"

They blamed "politicking" and were disappointed to hear the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would not follow in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh's visit in 1953.

Questions were asked as to how the plans could collapse so quickly, but the Waikato Times understands government officials may have been at the centre of it.

Maori King Tuheitia was approached by staff from the Maori Affairs ministry, Te Puni Kokiri, with a list of demands and a tight timeframe that would have broken proper protocol on his marae.

The king and his advisers were at Ratana Pa celebrations yesterday and were unavailable for comment.

But media manager for the 2014 Royal Visit Office, Allen Walley, said engagements for the tour were yet to be settled.

He said a visit to Turangawaewae could still get the seal of approval.

"There are no venues or events confirmed at this stage," he said.

Government officials had looked at a number of venues but final decisions had yet to be made, he said.

Someone had jumped the gun confirming the visit, but Mr Walley advised against hanging up the bunting just yet as there was still ample opportunity to showcase Waikato attractions.

"It was perhaps a little bit ahead of play," he said.

"Basically, everywhere in the country is in the mix at the moment."

Te Puni Kokiri communications manager Paula Collins issued a brief statement on the saga but failed to answer the Times' questions.

elton.smallman@waikatotimes.co.nz

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